Season 6

Episode 618: “Bar Mitzvah”

Episode 618:  “Bar Mitzvah”
Original Air Date:March 12, 2000
Written by::Allen Estrin & Joseph Telushkin
Directed by:Jeff Kanew
Produced by:

Martha Williamson
Jon Andersen
R.J. Visciglia, Jr.

Guest Cast:
Ross Kirk Douglas
Alan Dennis Boutsikaris
Aaron Shawn Pyfrom
Connie Melanie Chartoff

Ross Berger, an 83-year old owner of a successful chain of exercise gyms, credits his recovery from a stroke to his own physical strength and will. He considers himself a self- made man and believes religion is for the weak. Ross’ son Alan, on the other hand, is a man of faith in God and a well-respected college professor who deeply values his Jewish heritage. Alan’s son Aaron, who is preparing for his bar mitzvah, admires his grandfather’s physical strength more than his father’s spiritual faith.

Monica and Tess agree to help Ross produce an exercise video for stroke victims, while Andrew tutors Aaron in Hebrew, teaching him the true meaning of the bar mitzvah — the acceptance of his new responsibilities as a man of God. Alan’s wife Connie is worried about Ross’ influence on Aaron, but is even more concerned about Alan’s frequent dizzy spells, one of which results in a serious car accident. When Alan receives the news that he is dying from a rapidly growing brain tumor, he confides in Ross. Despite Alan’s pleas to spend his final days with his family, Ross pledges to find better doctors and newer treatments, promising to fix the situation with his own resources. Soon after, Alan collapses and is taken to the hospital. Even while ill, Alan is concerned with Aaron’s bar mitzvah, asking Ross to participate in the ceremony if he is unable. Ross agrees and also prays with Alan, but when Aaron oversees this, he believes his grandfather has weakened and has given up trying to save Alan.

When Andrew arrives as the Angel of Death, Alan realizes that his faith has been justified, and he dies in peace. Aaron is devastated and angry, both at God and at Ross for not saving Alan. Aaron refuses to proceed with the ceremony, citing his grandfather’s belief that religion is for the weak as a reason. Meanwhile, Monica reveals to Ross that she is an angel, and encourages him to humble himself before God and accept His love. The next day at the ceremony, the rabbi announces that there will be no bar mitzvah. Ross then steps forward to state his desire to be bar mitzvah’d. Ross tells Aaron that he was wrong to believe religion was for the weak and admits that Alan was right all along. Grandfather and grandson join each other in reading the Torah, embracing their Jewish faith and heritage.

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